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Which soft flour is best for southern cooking? [split from Traditional Southern Cooking: Cookbooks thread]

[NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread titled "Traditional Southern cooking - cookbooks?" at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893232 -- The Chowhound Team]

Off-topic but related.

One thing I've learned from all these cookbooks is that it isn't just the recipes that matter, it's the ingredients, some of which are quite different from what we northerners use. Especially flour. In the south they use a softer, lower-protein, more finely milled flour, made from red winter wheat, and this supposedly makes a big difference in biscuits and quick breads, which are core southern foods. (Not cake flour, which has even less protein.

)

The gold standard of southern flours is White Lily, or it used to be. A few years ago Smucker's bought the brand and promptly closed the Tennessee mill, producing the flour somewhere in the midwest. They claim they're using the same wheat and process, but apparently southern cooks can tell the difference just from the look and feel, before even baking with it, and non-cooks can tell the difference in taste tests.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/din...

So here's another question. Which soft flour is the best for southern cooking, among today's choices? Is it still White Lily or some other brand? I don't ordinarily order raw ingredients by mail, But if this makes such a difference, in this case maybe I should make an exception for flour. What do you think?

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  1. My mother was a firm believer in White Lily flour and that is what I always used as well. I started baking yeast bread seriously several years ago. Bake at least once and usually twice a week.

    Well, I decided to make some biscuits using the King Arthur AP flour that I use for bread. WTF I say to myself, these are as good as if not better than White Lily biscuits.

    So, to answer your question, White Lily flour is not worth mail ordering unless it's going to keep you up at night thinking about it.

    16 Replies
    1. re: kengk

      Thanks for these responses. But maybe I should explain - since the Chowhound moderators have stripped my message of its original context - that I'm not into southern cooking in a general sort of way. I'm trying to revisit and if possible replicate some of the dishes my grandmother's cook made for us kids 60-some years ago. This was in southwest Virginia (Roanoke to be specific).

      I've collected various cookbooks ranging from the compilations of the local Junior League etc. to Dupree & Graubart's "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking." The latter says that soft, low-protein flours "are used to keep quick breads, biscuits, cakes, and pie crusts light and flaky... Bleaching the flour snowy white also tenderizes it, Thus bleached flour produces a lighter biscuit." Their "pantry" starts at the top with all-purpose soft-wheat flour and all-purpose self-rising soft-wheat flour, so I take it seriously.

      If this kind of flour is used in the south today, it's surely what Grandma's cook used generations ago, and what I need to use if I'm to follow in her footsteps. I've made perfectly good biscuits with ordinary all-purpose flour, but they're my biscuits, not hers, and if I use the wrong ingredients, I feel doomed to failure right from the start. That also applies to Antilope's cornstarch expedient, which Dupree & Graubart describe, but Grandma's cook won't have done any such thing, or needed to. In this I feel I have to be a purist.

      White Lily all-purpose and self-rising flour are not sold in New York where I live. They can be ordered through amazon.com from several sources at a wide range of prices, as low as $3.75 for a 5-pound bag. But maybe it's no longer the best choice, because of the changes since Smuckers' acquisition? Is some other brand better, like Martha White? That too is said to have changed. Advice gratefully received.

      1. re: John Francis

        I'm going to the store this afternoon and I will try to make a note of what southern type flours seem to be most popular here based on stocking levels.

        I have a feeling that there are going to be some that use White Lily or Martha White because that's what mama used. Some are going to buy whatever is cheapest.

        1. re: kengk

          Thanks! I'll be interested in what you find out. What's your location?

          1. re: John Francis

            West Central Georgia.

            Based on the shelf area allowed I feel very confident that White Lily is most popular here. Plus, several brands did not appear to have been touched since the shelfs were last restocked and there were several bags of the White Lily missing, probably sold this morning.

            White Lily and Martha White were both $2.98. King Arthur was $4.78 for comparison.

            1. re: kengk

              I live in West Georgia, too, and White Lily flours are all over the shelves. That's the gold standard here, still, even though the wheat has changed

              1. re: kitchengardengal

                Have the locals commented on a difference, or is that just a rumor started by the NYT 'test'?

                1. re: paulj

                  Y'know, paulj, Southerners are very much traditionalists about their food brands. White Lily, Duke's, Coke.... I never asked anyone if they could tell the difference, but there's a good chance that many old timey home cooks here have never tried to make biscuits with anything but WL.
                  Some with a really well developed sense of touch and taste perhaps can tell when their old favorites have changed.

        2. re: John Francis

          Some make a big deal about Smuckers acquiring White Lily, ignoring the fact that they bought it from San Antonio based Pioneer Flour Mills (which originally acquired WL in 1995).

          http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/on...

          Martha White is also a Smucker brand.

          http://www.midstatemills.com/consumer...
          Midstate Mills is another Southern brand.

          a 3 flour test:
          http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2012/05/...
          http://cookingontheside.com/the-resul...

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/mag...
          claims flour isn't as important as practice - i.e. skill in handling the dough.

          1. re: paulj

            I skimmed through a couple of those comparison tests. In one the White Lily biscuits rose much higher than the others and in another test they were all about the same. Seems like the leavening might have been past it's prime in the one test.

            1. re: kengk

              Notice in one test that the home made version did worst. That one used Rumford baking powder.
              http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1299...
              compares baking powders.

              I believe most self rising flours use the ingredients as Calumet b.p.

              In the test where all 3 rose about the same, White Lily required the tester's own baking powder, but she does not specify the brand. The lighter color could be due to different proportions of acid and baking soda. Besides being a leavener, baking soda promotes browning.

              1. re: paulj

                Rumford, Calumet, and Clabber Girl are all produced by one company in Terre Haute, IN.

                When I was in college, in one of my foods labs we had to bake something (I can't remember what it has been about 40 years) with each of them, identical recipes and compare results. Each container of baking powder was fresh.

                Rumford had the highest rise and had no metallic taste. Calumet was next and Clabber Girl the last. Both Calumet Clabber Girl gave a slight metallic taste Since that experiment I have only used Rumford.

                1. re: Candy

                  Best results are with baking powders that are alumimum free AND use sodium acid pyrophosphate:

                  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1299...

                  In my neck of the woods, that's Argo and Bob's Red Mill baking powders.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    I've been using Argo ever since I read that article in '09, after having used Rumford since I was a kid (it was my mom's brand and I stayed with it). Argo's terrific stuff; I haven't looked back since. I have the Bakewell Cream cookbook, too. :)

            2. re: paulj

              Yes, but at least Pioneer was a mill. Smucker's is huge conglomerate that doesn't seem to have demonstrated any feeling for the brands they purchase. As stated, they closed Tennessee mill, dealing a death blow to the local economy in the process. Call me provincial but I think that's a big deal. And to add insult to injury, longtime users swear the quality deteriorated. I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

              1. re: MacGuffin

                What about that other White Lily mill, the one in Ohio?

                http://knowtea.com/?p=460

                "Why did the Knoxville milling facility close?

                The J.M. Smucker Company purchased the White Lily brand from C.H. Guenther & Sons in 2006 and that transaction did not include the Knoxville milling facility. The C.H. Guenther & Sons Inc. owns that facility and made the decision to close it.
                " http://www.whitelily.com/media/flour_...

                "Of the current 72 employees, 39 will be laid off May 1, and the remaining 33 on June 30, Trotterchaud said."
                http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/mar...

                That is in contrast to the 1000 employees at the Knoxville Scripps Networks Interactives (Food Network) headquarters.
                http://bluestreak.moxleycarmichael.co...

                http://www.answers.com/topic/white-li...
                Everything you want to know, and more, about the history of WL brand. It's been bought and sold many times since 1972.

                And a more recent discussion
                http://community.kingarthurflour.com/...

                1. re: paulj

                  The WL mill in Ohio is the "somewhere in the Midwest" facility to which John Francis refers in his original post. Smucker's first rationalization (still on their site) was that some of the wheat for WL was always milled there and since a lot of the wheat was grown nearby as well, it made sense to maintain as much geographic proximity as possible (as well as to forgo purchase of the southern facilities, I'd guess). Placing the onus on Pioneer in print is of recent vintage; I'm pretty sure it wasn't on the WL site the last time I looked several years ago. According to data in your link, Pioneer had agreed to continue milling for Smucker's in Knoxville; if they closed the plant, it seems very unlikely that it had nothing to do with Smucker's.

        3. You can make a substitute for soft flour by replacing 2 Tbsp per cup of all purpose flour with cornstarch (so each cup used would equal 14 Tbsp all purpose flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch).

          1. John - This doesn't directly answer your question but I think you'll find much of interest in regards to your quest.

            http://ansonmills.com/

            1. I am a user of White Lily. It is the only flour I use for baking. The results are noticeable. The amount of gluten in regular AP flour makes many baked goods a bit tough unless you are very careful when mixing a dough or batter.

                1. I am firmly in the White Lily camp. I use both All-Purpose and Self Rising.

                  I use the self rising when making biscuits. The recipe I use for biscuits is from Nathalie Dupree's baking book. It is a never fail recipe and the biscuits are heavenly.

                  For any other baking (not bread) I use the all-purpose. I get tender and light results.

                  1. Hi. Just googling around and came across this. I am from East TN and have just moved to Westchester County - about 19 miles from New York. I previously lived in Brooklyn where they at least had self-rising flour on the shelves! Anyway, Hudson Cream flour seems to be all the rage in TN right now. My mother swears by the biscuits it bakes.

                    34 Replies
                    1. re: slslaughter

                      You inspired me to visit their site: http://www.hudsoncream.com/ . Very useful post; was your mom a White Lily user previously?

                      Incidentally, should you make it to Queens, there's an Irish grocery in Sunnyside called Butcher Block that carries Odlums flour, including a self-rising cream (even the regular cream has a bit of leavening). Irish flour is milled from very soft wheat and might be a good alternative to Southern patent flours if you don't mind that it's not bleached.

                      1. re: MacGuffin

                        I can't say she went with White Lily exclusively. We're from near Knoxville and I don't remember any talk at home when the mill closed so definitely not a fanatic. There's a farm stand at home where a woman cooks breakfast and serves 'until the biscuits are gone'. She uses Hudson Cream and turned my mom onto it. It's very popular - stocked in regular grocery stores there.

                          1. re: slslaughter

                            Earlier posts in this thread worried about changes in WL flour due to the sale to Smuckers, and the closing of the Knoxville mill. Elsewhere WL fans were worried that they'd switch to Kansas wheat - supposedly the local 'southern' wheat was better.

                            But Hudson Cream has been a Kansas mill from the very beginning. They started shipping flour to Appalachia in 1922 because a WV lady was not satisfied with the flour she found locally. And now most of their sales are in that area.

                            In 1952 they added self-rising - on request from Appalachia customers (and competition from WL and Martha White versions, which were heavily advertised).

                            Note the description of their core product:
                            "Our signature short patent flour made from the heart of the wheat berry."
                            WL built their reputation on the same thing - an extra refined, white flour that worked well in biscuits and cakes. This is the opposite of the 'whole-wheat and bran healthy for you' flour.

                            Even their one whole wheat flour uses hard white wheat - which tastes and bakes more like refined white flour.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Didn't we hash this out last year and determine that it wasn't the "newly minted foodie fans" that were worrying but rather the longtime users who were able to tell the difference after the Knoxville closure in blind tests? And I'm pretty sure that SOME of WL's flour was being milled in Ohio, I believe because some of the wheat was grown there; it wasn't the main facility (it IS, however, where Smucker is located). And of course, this doesn't even address the people who were thrown out of work.

                              BTW, did you know that pretty much everything you've posted about Hudson Cream is on their site?

                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                Yes, I was essentially quoting from the HC site that you linked. What stood out to me was that a Kansas wheat has been competitive with the iconic Southern brands for many decades.

                                http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/din...
                                reports on the 'blind test'

                                "A blind test by two bakers, who were sent bags of the old and new product marked only A and B, underscored Ms. Corriher’s concern.

                                ...Sample A, the new product, had “a grayish color” and made a “dense and chewy” cake, while Sample B, the old, made for silky, rather than stiff, dough and a “light and airy” cake."

                                And a follow up
                                http://knowtea.com/?p=460
                                "The Grey Lady [NYT] caused True Southerners all over this great nation of ours to reach for their collective Smellin’ Salts a few weeks ago with this article ..."
                                and "Furthermore, the “new” flour used in the NYT taste-test was unaged flour, so there’s no wonder that it looked funny and didn’t work right."

                                Flour can also be gray if it isn't 'patent', i.e. doesn't use the whitest core of the wheat berry.

                                I'm reading a book about the history of 'white bread'. It mentions that right after WW2 the USA was shipping a lot of bread wheat to Europe to alleviate a famine (and prevent the spread of communism). In order to free up more wheat for export the President ordered a domestic millers to use a higher extraction rate - i.e. stay closer to the bran. And consumers complained about 'gray bread'.
                                http://books.google.com/books?id=nGjE...

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Relevant: a) product was "dense and chewy," which, rather than the color, was the bottom line and b) the test was blind, the bakers knew the difference in spite of it, and you'd think a mill that was on the ball wouldn't be dumb enough to submit un-aged flour for a test that was supposed to establish their credibility.

                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                    Sounds like first clear flour, which is often used with rye breads for those characteristics.

                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      Wouldn't such a flour have to be rather strong, i.e. have a fair amount of gluten, in order to make up for what the rye lacks?

                                    2. re: MacGuffin

                                      The ageing explanation is suspect, since WL flour is bleached. Bleaching simulates the changes that come with natural aging. But some sort of one-time mix up is more likely than a major change in formulation.

                                      This article was written in 2008. We don't have to rely on a one time test with 2 bakers that long ago. Properties like whiteness, bran content (or lack there of), and protein level (how soft the flour is) are things that the mill's QA people test all the time.

                                      Smuckers and its competitors must also have good data on how their respective market shares have evolved in the last 5 years.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I'm just saying it was stupid to have happened at all. And you might just have hit the nail on the head. According to Wikipedia, Smucker also owns Martha White, which takes care of some of the competition at the get-go (or did until it was recalled due to some sort of fungus not found in what's produced in the non-corporate mills). Sorry, but you'll get no sympathy from me regarding corporate food. These are firms run by jackass MBAs with no sense of or feel for what locally produced products mean to those who produce and buy them, or indeed anything at all that falls outside the established "model." Long live the Adluhs and Hudson Creams and King Arthurs of the world. And I know Red Band is no more. It has been no more for a good five years; it was the first Southern patent flour to disappear, which it did after--GUESS WHO???--Smucker acquired it. After this Martha White recall, don't expect that brand to be around much longer either.

                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                          Are you referring to the Smuckers recall of cornmeal based products due to possible aflatoxin contamination?
                                          http://www.benekeith.com/images/uploa...

                                          This mold can grow on the corn in the field or in storage. There's nothing particularly 'corporate' about it.
                                          http://aes.missouri.edu/delta/croppes...

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Well then, such grain really shouldn't have been milled to begin with, should it have? It's not as though aflatoxins are undetectable or, more importantly, that those in the industry are unaware of their existence and the potential threat they pose--we're not talking expensive smut here. My implied point was that the privately owned mills seem to keep on top of things by submitting their product for testing prior to releasing it to retailers (which they do), not that their grain is somehow immune to the forces of nature. One doesn't read about Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur, Hudson Cream, Adluh, Anson Mills, Gray's or Kenyon's Grist Mills, et al. recalling their products. These guys don't concern themselves with peanut butter, jelly, juice, and underwriting drives to ensure that the inclusion of GM ingredients aren't required on labels.

                                        2. re: paulj

                                          Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
                                          -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill
                                          -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
                                          -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
                                          -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
                                          -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
                                          -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
                                          -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
                                          -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour

                            2. re: slslaughter

                              I just found 1 lb bags of Hudson Cream at Big Lots. Discount stores like this seem to be the only way we get regional foods like this in Seattle.

                              I made a batch of biscuits with it, and they turned out well. However, I couldn't resist my usual practice, and so only used half white flour, the rest being rye and cashew. So it probably wasn't a fair test of this versus by regular AP (TJs).

                              The packaging makes it clear that this is Kansas flour, from Hudson, KS, Stafford Cty Mills.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Looking at its nutritional label, Hudson Cream Short Patent Enriched Bleached Flour has a protein/gluten of about 10% (3 grams of protein in each 30 gram serving). About the same as Gold Medal all purpose flour. Adding half cake flour (7% protein/gluten) with half Hudson Cream all purpose flour would make a flour with about 8% or 9% protein/gluten, similar to White Lily (8% or 9% protein/gluten) and much better for biscuits and other quick breads.

                                Gluten can overpower chemical leaveners, like baking powder, causing a lower rise. That's one reason lower gluten/protein flour is better for quick breads. Soft Southern wheat has less gluten/protein than hard northern wheat. Bleaching flour (such as cake flour) also weakens gluten.

                                1. re: Antilope

                                  Which raises an interesting question - why does this brand have a following in parts of 'biscuit' country? Is there a real difference in the current flours, or just a matter of history?

                                  In my test batch I had enough other low gluten ingredients that a 8 v 10% difference in the white part probably doesn't matter. And by now I have enough experience making biscuits that I generally avoid the over-working issue.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    What are other "low-gluten ingredients?"

                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                      In my case, rye flour and cashew meal. I'm also a sucker for barley and oat flour (though too much oat creates gumminess).

                                      For a cornmeal biscuit recipe, ATK advises, go ahead and knead the dough more than usual, since the corn 'dilutes' the gluten level.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        And finally, "ATK?" (Sorry, a search yields nothing.)

                                        Incidentally, cashews are "low-gluten?" Wouldn't that imply that they have "some gluten" from that? I wasn't aware that nuts have gluten.

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            Thanks, and DUH. I can only excuse my forgetfulness on the basis of not being a fan and having such a severe case of the flu that I've been rendered cretinous. I recently quasi-panned one of their cookbooks on Amazon and got a surprising amount of support from readers.

                                          2. re: MacGuffin

                                            For the purpose of lowering the overall gluten level, no-gluten is just as good as reduced-gluten. I wasn't trying to be technical with the phrase 'low gluten'. But that wasn't my purpose in adding those flours. I just like the taste and texture that they add.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                In addition to a lower gluten baking mixture, baking powder makes a difference.

                                                I recently tried Argo baking powder. Wow, what a difference in my baked goods. Much higher rising, lighter, and no metallic taste (it's made without aluminum.) Here's a link to a baking powder review/comparison at the Fresh Loaf (the article is by Debra Wink, who originated the pineapple juice process for sourdough starters.):

                                                http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1299...

                                                I found Argo baking powder at Sam's Club.

                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                  That's what I've been using since I read that article years back! I mentioned it above in response to a post by Karl S. It's pretty similar to Bakewell Cream Baking Powder (which is a double-acting spin on Original Bakewell Cream) but is a lot more readily available. It's great stuff.

                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                    I have been using Argo for several years now; in fact I need to get a new container.

                                                    But I don't really know what people mean when they complain about 'metallic' taste in other double acting brands. They do contain aluminum compounds, but that does not mean they will taste like 'aluminum'. I cook in an aluminum pan and don't taste anything. Even after reacting with the bicarb, the resulting salts are compounds.

                                                    Argo contains metallic compounds - sodium and calcium are metals.

                                                    And what is in self-rising flour like White Lily?
                                                    "BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE)"

                                                    http://dwb4.unl.edu/Chem/CHEM869R/CHE...
                                                    "A typical double action baking powder may have 12 % of MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, 30 % of Sodium Bicarbonate, 23 % of Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, 35 % of Corn Starch."

                                                    I just did a taste test - 1/4 tsp of baking powder in 1/4c water, warmed in the microwave till it foams. There isn't any obvious difference between conventional (Hearth Club) and Argo. The Argo might be a little saltier tasting, but that's it.

                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                        "Baking S.O.S. says: You are exactly right: too much chemical leavener–in this case, baking soda–can cause a bitter and metallic taste."
                                                        http://bakingsos.com/blog/?p=839

                                                        There are lots links that attribute a metallic taste to the aluminum in most baking powder, but they all look like 2nd hand rumors.

                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                        Sodium ceases to be a metal in reaction with other elements (maybe you weren't treated to the very showy NaCl reaction in chemistry lab that introduces sodium metal to chlorine gas?). Calcium is also very reactive. And your taste AND color would be off if you used anything reactive in your aluminum pans. In fact, some things can't even be prepared in aluminum; I discovered this many years ago as a young bride when I tried to make rahat lakum in an aluminum saucepan and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't thicken. Even cast iron pans can react with certain foods, e.g. potatoes.

                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                          Wouldn't that be the same for aluminum? - that it no longer is a metal when part of compound like sodium aluminum phosphate? There's no free (metallic) aluminum in baking powder, nor in this reaction products.

                                                          Humphy Davy isolated metallic aluminum and sodium about the same time (1808 and 1807).

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            Yes, it would but it wouldn't necessarily eliminate a metallic taste, especially given aluminum's extreme reactivity--it's very powerful stuff, even at its most stable (bear in mind that failed rahat lakum). And if one wants to get picky, neither sodium nor aluminum occur as metals as we know them in nature (and lest you think I'm pulling fun facts off the Internet, I had two full years of undergraduate chemistry which of course included labs). But then, I'm not doubting the food chemistry of metallic-tasting baked goods or writing off others' experiences as "2nd hand rumors." What motive would someone have for starting such rumors? (And having bought some pretty lousy Greenmarket baked goods, I can attest to the perils of using too much soda. To quote Mad Magazine: "Blecch.")

                                          3. re: Antilope

                                            I happened to see Hudson Cream for sale at a Walmart in Detroit during a recent visit. I was tempted to bring a bag home but didn't feel like shlepping it on the plane.

                                      2. Here's a list I put together of U.S. retail wheat flour types
                                        U.S. WHEAT FLOUR TYPES AND BEST USES:

                                        .
                                        Wheat Flour Protein:

                                        -Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour.

                                        -Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded.

                                        -Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels.

                                        -For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

                                        -Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%.
                                        Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

                                        -Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10%
                                        Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

                                        Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten. Most U.S. cake flours are bleached.
                                        .
                                        --------------
                                        .
                                        FLOUR PROTEIN BY TYPES AND BRANDS (retail flour):
                                        .
                                        CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
                                        Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
                                        -King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
                                        -King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4%
                                        -Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
                                        -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                                        -Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
                                        .
                                        PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
                                        Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
                                        -King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
                                        -King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
                                        .
                                        ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN - 8 to 9% protein
                                        Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
                                        -Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
                                        -White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
                                        .
                                        SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
                                        Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles.
                                        -Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
                                        -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
                                        -Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
                                        -Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
                                        -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                                        -White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9%
                                        .
                                        ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protein
                                        Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
                                        -Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
                                        -Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                                        -Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
                                        -King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
                                        -Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                                        .
                                        INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
                                        Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
                                        -Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
                                        -Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
                                        .
                                        ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED, NATIONAL BRANDS - 10 to 11.5% protein
                                        Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
                                        -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
                                        -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
                                        -Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                                        -White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                                        .
                                        ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
                                        Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
                                        -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
                                        -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
                                        -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
                                        .
                                        BREAD FLOUR - 11.7 to 12.9% protein
                                        Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
                                        -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12%
                                        -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
                                        -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
                                        -White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
                                        .
                                        DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
                                        Best Use: Pasta.
                                        -Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3%
                                        -King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
                                        .
                                        WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
                                        Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
                                        -Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
                                        -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                                        -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                                        -Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
                                        .
                                        HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
                                        Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
                                        -King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14%
                                        -King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
                                        .
                                        VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
                                        Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
                                        -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0%
                                        -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                                        -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                                        -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
                                        -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
                                        .
                                        --------------
                                        .
                                        Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
                                        -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill
                                        -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
                                        -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
                                        -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
                                        -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
                                        -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
                                        -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
                                        -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
                                        .
                                        --------------
                                        .
                                        To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.
                                        .
                                        To make a lower protein flour (similar to White Lily or Pastry flour), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.
                                        .
                                        Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)
                                        .
                                        ------
                                        Version 7-6-2013

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Antilope

                                          "Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)"

                                          That's an ages-old kitchen tip for cake flour substitute "in a pinch" and the principle behind King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend ("blend" is a smaller font on the box, which seems to have misled some buyers). Quite a number of people (usually experienced bakers) who bought and reviewed it are disappointed with its performance compared to real cake flour. I think it was probably developed for a market segment that demands unbleached flour and I was glad I read the reviews before I bought it. King Arthur's real cake flour, Queen Guinevere, isn't available in stores here so I just stick with Swans Down (too soft and finely milled, BTW, for biscuits).

                                        2. Southern Biscuits, 2011, Dupree and Graubart

                                          "The best-for-biscuits flours include Southern Biscuit, White Lily, Martha White, and Red Band. Very good substitutes include mixtures of cake flour and/or all-purpose flour." p16

                                          '9 grams of protein per cup' is their specification for Southern flours.

                                          Though Red Band is no more:
                                          http://www.southernfoodsconnection.co...

                                          Southern Biscuit Flour is a Midstate Mills brand.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: paulj

                                            A Splendid Table segment with these 2 authors on biscuits

                                            http://www.splendidtable.org/story/ho...

                                          2. I used to use White Lily, but I can't buy it locally since I moved out of their stocking area. I've used conversions where you use 2T less AP flour per cup called for in the recipe to try and replicate using soft white flour. Now days I buy soft white wheat berries and grind my own flour.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: rasputina

                                              What kind of mill are you using? I'm dying for a KoMo.

                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                I'm dying for a Komo also, right now I'm making due with my Vitamix dry blade container. My main complaint with it is it's hard to get coarse ground grains consistent size ( it's fine with finely ground flour) and that sometimes I think I'm done grinding so I wash it and then realize darn I wanted to grind some more but now I have to wait for it to dry. Plus it's more about eye balling how finely ground the flour is getting vs having the precision of setting the stones and then having the grain or flour spit out when it's done.

                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                  LOL I've been an "enabler" on our mixer list for several members who were on the fence about springing for a KoMo. They all LOVE them and I'm enjoying them vicariously until I can afford my own (I like the Fidibus). There's a really nice review by an owner ("salute_to_veterans") on Amazon; he explains his method for cracked grains for homemade müesli. I recently learned, however, that KoMo is now marketing their very own Vitamix knockoff, so I've lost a bit of respect for them.

                                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                                    Really? I hadn't heard about the Vitamix knock off.

                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                      Honest. Check out their Web site. I was shocked, especially since they made it a point to claim it was superior to the Vitamix (yeah, right). I think they're better off sticking to mills. And BTW, the mill I REALLY want is a Salzburger MT5 in limed oak . . . but their mills aren't wired for North America. They use real granite for their stones!

                                                      Okay, forget the Web site. However, you can do a search. It's called (and this, for my money, represents the pinnacle of branding originality) "Komomix."

                                                      1. re: MacGuffin

                                                        I googled komomix and found the site. I'll have to wait until my husband gets home from work so he can translate. I can't read German except for a couple words, much to my ancestors dismay I'm sure.

                                                        Do they claim you can grind flour in it?

                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                          I believe they do. You can get Google to translate it into pretty passable English. Not unsurprisingly, one owner on a vendor site complained in a one-star review that it started leaking from the bottom in six months and that customer service wasn't responding. Big surprise. :O

                                            2. I just purchased a book called "Biscuits" by Belinda Ellis (worked for White Lily for 15 years). She writes that White Lily was made using soft red winter wheat. I Googled that and learned that Ohio is leading producer of soft red winter wheat. After finding and reading all the posts in this thread, I Googled "Ohio mills" and found the article below. A new mill is being built in Willard OH by Star of the West, slated to open in 2016.

                                              Ohio Wheat Industry Welcomes Star of the West
                                              Star of the West Milling Company announced that they will begin construction on a new mill in Willard, Ohio this fall. The mill, which is targeted for completion by fall of 2016, will be able to produce 10,000 hundred weight of flour per day, all of which will be dedicated to milling soft red winter wheat.

                                              “The site location was chosen to optimize availability of Ohio grown soft red wheat and also to position the facility strategically with our existing customer base,” a spokesperson for Star of the West said.

                                              Headquartered in Frankenmuth, Star of the West has total wheat flour capacity of 25,500 cwts daily. The company’s flour mills are located in Ligonier, Ind.; Frankenmuth and Quincy, Mich.; Churchville, N.Y.; and Kent, Ohio. Additionally, Star of the West owns and operates 12 grain elevators primarily in Michigan with a grain storage capacity of more than 21 million bus. The company also owns four dry edible bean processing facilities, and three retail agricultural operations that include fertilizer, crop protection, custom application and agronomy services.

                                              “We are excited about the news this week of a new Star of the West milling facility being constructed in Willard,” said John Hoffman, Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP) Chairman, and farmer from Circleville, Ohio. “Ohio wheat farmers produce some of the highest quality soft red winter wheat in the world. We applaud any opportunity that helps it reach our consumers.”

                                              - See more at: http://ohiosmallgrains.org/ohio-wheat...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: SassyGrace

                                                Frankenmuth! We used to migrate there occasionally when I was a kid for fried chicken dinners (which, if memory serves, weren't all that).